The Sorrell Foundation was set up by Frances and John Sorrell in 1999, with the aim to inspire creativity in young people. The foundation’s Saturday Club Trust is a programme that links young people with professional designers, artists and architects. This programme complements curriculum and develops young people’s talents, life skills and confidence.
It also gives them the opportunity to take part in workshops across the UK’s art and design universities on Saturday mornings, called Masterclasses. These Saturday classes were inspired by the same ones that Frances and John also attended at their local art schools when they were 14 years old.
We were asked by the Saturday Club Trust to run our first Masterclass in 2016, being teamed up with fashion students from Burnley College, and our Creative Director, Paul, set to run the Masterclass. Past Masterclass outcomes range from 2D, 3D, graphics, illustration, furniture design and architecture so we looked to work with the students on an idea that combined both conceptual and practical skills. 2016 was the year of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, so we looked to base our concept around this as well.
Each Masterclass usually consists of on-the-day learning for students, taught by professionals, so we wanted to use the opportunity of before, during and after our Masterclass to give the students their best possible experience. We also wanted the students to create an exciting piece of work for their portfolios.
Helping them to understand, in exactly the same we do, what it’s like working on the full life cycle of a project, from planning, to execution and evaluating.
How we solved it
The main question we asked the students to think about was, “As Rio 2016 approaches, has the London 2012 Olympics really delivered its promise of a lasting legacy for sport in the UK?”
Our aim was for them to positively explore, develop, and answer this question, by designing from the ground up a brand new sport 🏆 called ‘Trops’ (sport backwards).
The outcomes of the project would include a new sport concept (with a chosen target audience), the sport’s objectives, its rules, the field of play and the sportswear (in the form of designed prototypes) needed to play the sport.
Before the Masterclass
First, we spoke with both Burnley College’s lead tutor, Carolyn, the students and with the Saturday Club Trust team. This was to understand the capabilities of the students, and gaining initial feedback of the idea from the students themselves. It’s safe to say that it went down well!
We researched into leading brands and designers who crossover between sports and fashion. These included Stella McCartney and Aitor Throup and their work with the likes of adidas and Umbro respectively. We used these references to help the students visualise what they could end up creating during the Masterclass.
The next step was to create the brief for the students, explaining the project idea in the most simple way.
We divided the brief into three parts, ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ the Masterclass. For the first section, we split this into two areas, ‘research’ and ‘concepts’. For their research, we encouraged the students to interview people at sports facilities in Burnley, gathering primary research to think about and answer questions such as the following:
What are your personal sport or exercise interests and why do you do them?
What new areas of Burnley could you play sport in?
After their research, the students were asked to start coming up with Trops sports concepts, answering questions such as the following:
How do you score or gain points?
What sportswear do you need to wear to play, and what does this look like?
As the project idea was ambitious, we made sure to highlight ‘top tips’ for the students throughout the brief. These were bite size tips that they could quickly focus on to get going with tasks, such as the following:
Test out all of your ideas (but don’t throw any away!) by explaining them to other groups or friends. Do they think it is simple enough to play?
Paul Skyped the students to meet and brief them, with further Skype sessions to check in on how their research and concepts were going. We offered feedback along the way, leading up to the eventual Masterclass.
During the Masterclass
The day long Masterclass took part at Burnley College’s sports hall. One-half of the hall was used as a sports lab area for testing sports ideas and the other half acted as a design studio, where the sportswear prototypes were going to be made.
The students started off with plenty of energy testing out their sports ideas, trying out different versions as we went along. They focussed on how their bodies moved whilst playing the sports, photographing each other to see how pressure points of the body such as elbows and knees changed during certain movement.
This testing and insight would eventually help them when making their sportswear ideas.
After testing their sports, combining these findings with all their previous research and concepts, the students were now ready to start designing and making their sportswear. They firstly ‘wireframed’ their sportswear ideas – developing and making to-scale paper/card prototypes. They selected available fabrics and materials to then work on top of mannequins.
The final stage was to think about what custom finishing they could add to their sportswear. One group applied ‘Trops’ branding onto their garments whilst the other group added decorative trims to their designs.
— Saturday Club (@natsatclub) May 21, 2016
Initially a conceptual idea, the dedicated students grasped it with both hands and turned their ideas into reality, creating a set of fantastic outcomes – including research, concepts and production. This was exactly what we had hoped to achieve.
After the Masterclass
Every year, the Saturday Club Trust puts on an exhibition of all Masterclasses at Somerset House in London. This is a chance for everyone involved in the programme to come together and celebrate. It’s also a chance for the students to marvel in their own and other amazing outcomes that are created from the Masterclasses.
Our Trops sportswear, as well as the students’ research, drawings and material ideas, were shown at the exhibition. We even had an additional basketball net and ball added to our area – a nice touch from the Saturday Club Trust team!
We’re already working on our 2017 Masterclass so watch this space.
— Triple Double (@Triple_Double_) June 24, 2016
The film below also shows in more detail exactly what the Saturday Club Trust is all about.